System of Dress — A Guide to Layering
System of Dress – A Layering Guide For Riding In Any Conditions
The PEARL iZUMi System of Dres is a definitive layering…
Rate this story:
0 votes so far

The PEARL iZUMi System of Dres is a definitive layering strategy to help you enjoy more great days on the bike. Maintaining the optimum body temperature is an art and a science that we’re committed to perfecting so you can stay comfortable in any conditions. The key is to combine the right layers to balance protection with breathability. And even though it might sound complicated, it’s as easy as 1,3,2—choosing your baselayer, then outer layer, and finally midlayer.

Layering Guide for Cycling

The Foundation: Choosing a Baselayer 

One of the comfort secrets for cool weather riding is keeping the layer next to your skin dry, so start by choosing your baselayer first. Reach for a synthetic baselayer for cool, dry conditions, or if you’re planning a higher intensity outing. Turn to a merino piece when humidity is high and/or temps are quite cold. If your outer layer(s) allow, a long sleeve base is extra cozy on truly arctic days.

Layering Guide for Cycling

Protection: Choosing an Outer Layer

This layer is all about combating the elements—cold, wet, wind or a combination of the three. If it’s only moderately cool out, wind protection may be all you need and packing a light wind shell with water resistance (for those pop-up showers) should do the trick. In downright cold conditions, we recommend an AmFIB jacket with amped up insulation. When riding in steady rain choose a fully waterproof WxB shell.

Layering Guide for Cycling

Extra Insulation: Choosing a Midlayer

There’s no hard-and-fast rule for the midlayer. This is the step in the layering process where you will make the ultimate call on what you need to stay comfortable, and that has a lot to do with your effort level and whether you run warm or cold. However, in most cold weather riding situations, If it’s just cool out, pair a long sleeve with a vest for perfect core insulation and less bulk. If the temps feel extra variable—as can often happen in Fall and Spring—a short sleeve jersey paired with removable arm warmers may be the best option.

Layering Guide for Cycling

Here’s a quick guide on how to match our technical fabrics with the conditions outside: 

  • Cool → Transfer Jersey 
  • Seasonably Cold → Thermal Jersey
  • Variable Cold Conditions → Polartec® Alpha Direct®
  • Deep Cold → AmFIB Softshell
  • Wind → Barrier
  • Rain → WxB

Our cold weather performance wear and layering strategy have been tested in the worst conditions so that we can be sure we’re giving you the best protection. We’re confident that our System of Dress will help you extend the season and enjoy more great days on the bike.

Rate this story:
0 votes so far

14 thoughts on “System of Dress – A Layering Guide For Riding In Any Conditions

  1. Geat writeup Joshua! I really appreciate the thought that went into this. Here in the upper Midwest we love to ride all year. Temperatures are often well below zero (F) with very little moisture in the air. Layering is key to success, and as you point out, once you get the formula figured out you can comfortably ride in any temperature! Pedal on!

  2. I have been riding for a long time and no one had ever explained intended use of each material. I just went out there and gritted it out. No more of that! Thank you for sharing this information. Helps a lot.

    • Hey Josh, can you give me a little more about riding type, effort, and conditions? Happy to give you my perspective, but mine is certainly not the only one. Thanks

  3. Living in central Florida, my jacket use is mostly for summer rain and/or winter (45deg +) outer shell. In summer, I would wear it for a short time only as most rain that I would ride in is short lasting, so just need it light enough to not bake at high humidity. What fits that Rx?

    • Hi George, that Florida weather is certainly a challenge for most traditional apparel. In your use-case here, you could still go with a wool short sleeve baselayer–as wool works well in heat despite the notion of it being too warm–with your typical Interval or PRO jersey. Then for when it does spit on your ride for a short time, consider using one of our newest jackets featuring PI Dry®.

      The reimagined Zephrr (long sleeve jacket or pair the vest version with PI Dry arm warmers) is a great wind jacket with water resistance now. While these wind shells are not intended to be a “rain jacket,” the PI Dry treatment will prevent water from soaking you and your jacket. Don’t worry, the water-resistance treatment won’t wash off, as it coats the fiber before making the fabric as opposed to a spray-on finish after assembly. Or the new Torrent WxB Jacket, which is our lightest and most packable waterproof breathable pieces, would keep you drier in longer periods of rain but still breathable to avoid becoming poached egg-like. But also a great additional layer for those cooler months in the winter. Hope that helps.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Testing Cycling Apparel At The Limits – The ACE Climatic Wind Tunnel It takes at least 24 hours of non-stop driving to…
PEARL iZUMi // 12.2018
Read more
Sustainable Super-Fabrics – Cycling Science PEARL iZUMi was built on performance fibers. Now we’re using…
PEARL iZUMi // 09.2019
Read more
Benefits of Baselayers
The Benefits of Baselayers As the foundation for any three-season kit, baselayers are crucial…
PEARL iZUMi // 09.2022
Read more
All Four Seasons on All the Bikes Riding during the shoulder seasons and beyond provides a new…
Korey Hopkins // 10.2021
Read more